Developing a Comprehensive Risk Assessment Framework for Geological Storage of CO2


University of Texas at Austin
Award Number:  FE0001563
Project Duration:  10/01/2009 – 08/31/2014
Total Award Value:  $2,630,575.00
DOE Share:  $1,996,125.00
Performer Share:  $634,450.00
Technology Area:  Geologic Storage
Key Technology: 

Project Description

This project is developing a new comprehensive framework for assessing both the programmatic and the technical risks associated with CO2 storage in deep saline reservoirs. The project is examining the potential risks that may be encountered at the overall programmatic level then linking those risks to more specific technical risks experienced during the implementation of a geologic carbon storage project. The use of experts in the field and an examination of risk data available from the related industries of CO2 injection for enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR), natural gas storage, and natural gas pipelines will help to define the risks expected to be encountered by geologic storage of CO2 in saline reservoirs.

Project Benefits

Through its core research and development program administered by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) emphasizes monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA), as well as computer simulation and risk assessment, of possible carbon dioxide (CO2) leakage at CO2 geologic storage sites. MVA efforts focus on the development and deployment of technologies that can provide an accurate accounting of stored CO2, with a high level of confidence that the CO2 will remain stored underground permanently. Effective application of these MVA technologies will ensure the safety of geologic storage projects with respect to both human health and the environment, and can provide the basis for establishing carbon credit trading markets for geologically storing CO2. Computer simulation can be used to estimate CO2 plume and pressure movement within the storage formation as well as aid in determining safe operational parameters; results from computer simulations can be used to refine and update a given site’s MVA plan. Risk assessment research focuses on identifying and quantifying potential risks to humans and the environment associated with geologic storage of CO2, and helping to ensure that these risks remain low.

As CCUS capacity increases and projects become commercial beyond 2020, the importance of accurate geologic models and robust risk assessment protocols will become increasingly important to project developers, regulators, and other stakeholders. NETL’s Carbon Storage Program aims to continue improvements to the models and risk assessment protocols. Specific goals within the Simulation and Risk Assessment Focus Area that will enable the Carbon Storage Program to meet current programmatic goals are to (1) validate and improve existing simulation codes which will enhance the prediction and accuracy of CO2 movement in deep geologic formations to within ± 30 percent accuracy, (2) validate risk assessment process models using results from large-scale storage projects to develop risk assessment profiles for specific projects, and (3) develop basin-scale models to support the management of pressure, CO2 plume, and saline plume impacts from multiple injections for long-term stewardship in major basins of the United States.

This technology is likely to benefit end users in designing and implementing carbon storage efforts to evaluate the potential risks that may be encountered from these types of efforts. The information will provide an increased and better understanding of the potential risks related to geologic storage of CO2 in deep saline reservoirs. The development of a toolkit of risk assessment models will allow stakeholders to better estimate the risks for specific carbon storage sites.


The primary objective of the DOE’s Carbon Storage Program is to develop technologies to safely and permanently store CO2 and reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions without adversely affecting energy use or hindering economic growth. The Programmatic goals of Carbon Storage research are: (1) estimating CO2 storage capacity in geologic formations; (2) demonstrating that 99 percent of injected CO2 remains in the injection zone(s); (3) improving efficiency of storage operations; and (4) developing Best Practices Manuals (BPMs). The objective of this study is the development of programmatic and technical risks associated with CO2 storage in deep saline reservoirs using:

The results of the efforts above will be used to develop a toolkit of semi-automated mathematical models that will allow stakeholders to estimate risks based on the protocols and methodologies that evolve from this effort without needing to license proprietary software. The research effort will also improve the efficiency of storage operations and help NETL’s Carbon Storage Program develop BPMs related to the risk management of a carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) operation.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager 
Karen Kluger:
Technology Manager 
Traci Rodosta:
Principal Investigator 

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